Stop promoting, start resonating

There’s a big difference between encouraging the sale or acceptance of a product, service or idea and really getting into someone’s heart and ultimately their head – which is precisely where you want to be.

To do so means you should aim to matter more and market less.

You need to stop promoting and start resonating.[1]

Promotion versus Resonance

There are three basic objectives of promotion:[2]

  • To present information to consumers and others.
  • To increase demand.
  • To differentiate a product.

Promotional acts are created with the intent of raising customer awareness of a product or brand, to generate sales, and/or to create brand loyalty. In essence, promotional tools and tactics are used to help spread the word about your product, service or initiative.

Resonance, on the other hand, is when something – an idea, a product – strikes a chord with you. You feel ‘Yup, this is so right’, ‘This is so true!’, or ‘This is so me!’ Because you feel so emotionally connected to the idea or product, you voluntarily spread the word about it.

If they’re both ultimately doing the same thing, why does it matter which way you get there? Is one better than the other?

As Tara Gentile puts it: products that resonate sell.

The reptilian brain is your master

The reptilian part of your brain – the oldest and innermost section of your brain – has a huge effect on how your brain processes information. If you can grab its attention you’ve got a much better chance at guiding your audience precisely where you want them to be: thinking affectionately and acting supportively about agriculture.

Grabbing the reptilian brain’s attention relies on constructing powerful messages – messages that resonate.

Survival Tip

Patrick Renvoisé and Christopher Morin, authors of ‘Neuromarketing’, suggest six building blocks to help sell your message to the old brain:

  • Grabber – You have one chance to make a first impression; do it well and do it right.
  • Big picture – Visual input reaches the [old] brain 60 times faster than words. Is there a visual that captures the essence of your message?
  • Claims – Your claims (messages) will resonate more and be more memorable if you repeat them throughout your conversation, but keep them crisp and succinct.
  • Proofs of gain – Warren Buffet said, “Price is what you pay. Value is what you get.” If you want to demonstrate the value of what you have to offer, provide incontrovertible proof of the value your audience will enjoy from your product/service.
  • Handling objections – Once again, the old brain is boss. When addressing objections, you need to consider that your audience’s decision-making machine (the old brain) objects for two reasons: it misunderstood or it has a valid objection triggered, as Renvoisé and Morin point out, because the old brain is afraid to make the wrong decision and put itself at risk.
  • The close – Your old brain best remembers the things presented up front and the things that close the conversation. To bookend your message, try repeating the most important take-away.

Renvoisé and Morin further suggest the following ‘impact boosters’ to enhance the strength of message building blocks so your message will reach the old brain even faster:

  1. You – Use the word ‘you’ as frequently as possible (without overdoing it!) to catch the selfish old brain’s attention.
  2. Credibility – The overall effectiveness of your sales pitch increases exponentially the more credible you are.
  3. Emotions – The old brain has one job: to protect its carrying case. Therefore, concepts that can reach the old brain’s processing centre the quickest are the ones most likely to resonate. The ideas that can do so are the ones with the most powerful emotional punch. Punch your old brain right in the gut for decisive action.
  4. Contrast – As Renvoisé and Morin so aptly put it: “…in a sales context, the absence of contrast – especially when a prospect has difficulty understanding the differences between your product and others – will bring the prospect’s decision-making ability to a halt…Sharp contrast helps your prospect’s old brain make a decision more quickly and easily.”
  5. Varying learning stylesPeople learn in one of three ways: visual, auditory or kinesthetically. To increase your message’s resonance, look for ways you can touch on all three.
  6. Stories – A good story draws your reader/listener in and makes the old brain feel as if it’s lived the experience itself, creating a resonating ‘bonding’ experience.
  7. Less is more – Less is ALWAYS more. Don’t over-inundate your audience with tons of facts and statistics; choose a few powerful and relevant details and allow them time to sink in and resonate.

FSG blog-2

Why does all of this matter in an agricultural context?

Resonating with people’s emotions* is the key to getting your messages through the clutter and remembered.

Since our reptilian brain is responsible for instinct and survival, you can use its influential power over the rest of the brain (where decisions are rationalized and emotional data is processed) to help your words and ideas resonate with your audience.


*Beware the ‘semantic stretch’: this is where people overuse an idea or concept that delivers a powerful emotional punch. Popular in agricultural circles where we want people to so desperately feel the same emotional connection we do, these types of emotional associations can lose effectiveness over time.


[1] An awesome sound bite from the even more super awesome Tara Gentile

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